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Nida-Rümelin studied Philosophy, Physics, Mathematics and Political Sciences at university. In 1984 he completed his PhD in Philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he obtained an assistant professorship, first at the Department of Philosophy and later at the Department of Political Sciences. In 1989, he was conferred the Habilitation (German post-doctoral qualification) from the Philosophy Department of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. After a one-year visiting professorship at Minnesota State University, he was appointed Chair of the Center for Ethics in the Bio Sciences at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. From 1993 to 2003 he held a Chair of Philosophy at the University of Göttingen, before he became Chair of Political Theory and Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Since 2009 he is full professor of Philosophy and Political Theory at the Department of Philosophy. He served as Dean of the Philosophy Faculty from 2009 until 2012 and as Deputy Dean thereafter. From 2011 until 2016, he was Speaker of the Munich Center for Ethics. Currently, he is Speaker of the executive study program Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPW). 

Nida-Rümelin spent five years (1998-2002) in politics. First as Head of the Municipal Department of Arts & Culture of the Bavarian state capital Munich. Then he held a ministerial office as the State Minister for Culture and Media and was thus a member of the national government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. During his time in office, Nida-Rümelin voiced criticism on the implementation of the Bologna Process, the European reformation process of the higher education. He recently criticized German policies aiming to increase the tertiary education rates and recommended instead to further foster German "dual system" of vocational training.